> On Provenšal, I thought it  was closer to French than Italian, but not

Speculating here, but I would say that you are right because the Alps and
Pyrennes would have made interchange between Italy and Spain harder than to
the French areas to the north.  Remember that the French speaking Richard
the Lion-Hearted was ruling Aquitaine at Dante's time.

On a trip to Spain and Portugal a dozen years ago it was interesting to
watch the change of languages going from Portugal to Spain to the Catalan
speaking region.  My wife enjoyed Catalonia because, from her French, she
could start reading the signs.

> Maybe Rick P. can find some introductory material on how the Romance
> languages, including Provenšal, developed from Latin.

I'll see but this one looks tough.

   Rick Parker